During the Asia Cup less than three months ago, the team could not piece together two whole batsmen to open an ODI innings. It got to the point that in the final of the tournament, off-spinner and lower-order batsman Mehedi Hasan Miraz opened the innings with Liton Das.
That picture was turned upside down when Soumya Sarkar hit a blistering ton for BCB XI in the one-day warm-up match against the West Indies. Now Bangladesh have their pick of four in-form openers -- Imrul Kayes, Soumya, Tamim Iqbal and Liton -- to choose from for the first ODI against the Caribbean outfit on Sunday in Mirpur. However, Soumya's unbeaten 83-ball 103, which featured six sixes and nine fours, may have tipped the scales in his favour.
Bangladesh's best opener and one of the best in the world, Tamim was seen as the lone ranger at the top of the order without a partner to rely on. The only time someone matched him at the top was in 2015, when Soumya burst onto the scene and laid waste to Pakistan and South Africa's bowlers during dominant home series wins. That element of matching Tamim in quality was also evident during their 114-run partnership yesterday.
Soumya however fell away and for much of 2016, 2017 and the first half of 2018 seemed to be fading into oblivion, but a string of scores -- most encouragingly in the domestic longer format games -- has shot him back into contention.
He had also scored a century in the warm-up game against Zimbabwe in October, but could not find a place in the first two ODIs, before coming into the side and scoring a century in the third game, along with Imrul.
"I tried to bat long, that has helped me score runs," Soumya said after the knock yesterday.
He said that after the century against Zimbabwe in the third ODI as well.
Imrul hit two centuries in the Zimbabwe series but has hurt his chances with failure in the Test series against West Indies; Liton hit a century in the Asia Cup final and scored 83 in the second ODI against Zimbabwe, but has been inconsistent. With his string of scores in the National Cricket League and in one-dayers recently, Soumya may possibly make a meaningful comeback -- perhaps the first of its kind for someone trying to partner Tamim.